Climate change, between a growing threat and the challenges of science

HAVANA, Cuba, Aug 26 (ACN) The most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) casts more shadows than lights on the unavoidable issue of climate change: scientists are observing changes in the Earth’s climate in every region and across the whole climate system.

According to the international organization, it is alarming to realize that many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, and some of the changes already set in motion—such as continued sea level rise—are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years.

Strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases would limit climate change, but it could take 20-30 years to see global temperatures stabilize, according to the report, approved by the 195 member governments of the IPCC.
A growing and accelerating threat

The data provided raise the alarm with new estimates of the chances of crossing the global warming level of 1.5 °C in the next decades, and shows that emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are responsible for approximately 1.1 °C of warming since 1850-1900.

“This report is a reality check,” said IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair Valérie Masson-Delmotte. “We now have a much clearer picture of the past, present and future climate, which is essential for understanding where we are headed, what can be done, and how we can prepare.”
Regional climate changes: how do they affect us?

All regions are facing increasing variations, warns the IPCC report, adding that climate change already affects all regions of the Earth in multiple ways.

Still, changes are and will be under way in other fields. Some of them are already quite noticeable in the Caribbean region, e.g. the intensification of the hydrological cycle, leading to more intense rainfall and associated flooding.

It also remarks that coastal areas will see continued sea level rise throughout the 21st century, contributing to more frequent and severe coastal flooding in low-lying areas and coastal erosion and, in the case of the oceans, warming, more frequent marine heat waves, acidification, and reduced oxygen levels will affect both ocean ecosystems and the people that rely on them.

Moreover, cities will be particularly affected by heat and flooding from heavy precipitation events and sea level rise in coastal cities.

Challenges for science in the face of climate change

The Working Group I report is the first instalment of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), which will be completed in 2022. According to the IPCC Chair, the innovations in this report, and advances in climate science that it reflects, provide an invaluable input into climate negotiations and decision-making.

The text brings together the latest advances in climate science and combines multiple lines of evidence from paleoclimate, observations, process understanding, and global and regional climate simulations.

IPCC assessments provide governments with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies and stand as a key input into the international negotiations to tackle climate change.

Cuba in the face of climate change

Recently, the Cuban Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment (CITMA) urged to reduce the effects of climate change with global initiatives and national plans of local impact.

On April 25, 2017, Cuba designed the State Plan to Tackle Climate Change, known as Tarea Vida (Task Life), focused on 73 municipalities, 63 of them in coastal areas, with five strategic actions and 11 tasks intended to counteract the effects of climate change in vulnerable areas.

Likewise, Project Manglar Vivo (Living Mangrove) has helped improve Cuban ecosystem services as a barrier against coastal flooding, an initiative that in six years has enriched more than 4,000 hectares of swamp forest with native species.


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